Keepers Leander White and Henry Cuskley to be honored at ceremony on Sept. 30, 2017

On September 30, 2017, at 2:30 p.m., U.S. Lighthouse Service markers will be placed on the grave sites of Leander White and Henry Cuskley at the Calvary Cemetery in Portsmouth, New […]

On September 30, 2017, at 2:30 p.m., U.S. Lighthouse Service markers will be placed on the grave sites of Leander White and Henry Cuskley at the Calvary Cemetery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Leander and Elizabeth White

Leander White with his wife, Elizabeth. Courtesy of Chuck Petlick.

Henry Cuskley. Courtesy of Chuck Petlick.

Leander White was the principal keeper at Whaleback Light 1878-1887, and he was keeper at Portsmouth Harbor Light from 1909 to 1915. White was also keeper at Cape Elizabeth Light, Maine, from 1878 to 1909. When he took over as keeper at Portsmouth Harbor, a newspaper reported, “Capt. White is the fourth oldest keeper in point of service in this district, having served 37 years in the lighthouse dept. He is one of the best men in this dept. of the government and has been in charge of stations at Boon Island, Whaleback and Cape Porpoise [Goat Island] Light stations during his many years of service.”

Leander White’s daughter, Mary, married Henry Cuskley, who was keeper at Portsmouth Harbor Light from 1915 to 1941. He had previously spent nine years as keeper at Libby Island Light in Maine. A 1985 book called Inalong, Outalong, Downalong: Reminiscences of New Castle, New Hampshire, by Helen St. John, relates some interesting tidbits about the Cuskley family’s years at Portsmouth Harbor Light. The keeper lived at the station with his wife and their two daughters. Mary Cuskley was famous for her Sunday dinners and her raspberry custard tarts.

According to St. John, neighbors could always tell when the lighthouse inspector was on his way to New Castle. One New Castle resident later claimed that Mrs. Cuskley would run around wildly as she attempted to straighten out the keeper’s house, throwing things out the windows to get them out of the way. During his stay as keeper, Henry Cuskley was an active member of the school board, and he was always willing to give local children a tour of the lighthouse.

The ceremony on September 30 is open to the public. Please park outside the cemetery and walk in.  Calvary Cemetery is located on Middle Road (NH Route 33) at the intersection with Islington Street.  The grave sites of Henry Cuskley and Leander White are near the far right side of the cemetery as you face it from Middle Road.

Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses thanks the generous donors who have made this event possible. There are plans to mark more grave sites of keepers of the Portsmouth Harbor and Whaleback lighthouses in the future.